Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4): A JRPG Codifier (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest II | jp box art

Dragon Quest II is often glossed over when discussing the legacy of the series. While Dragon Quest I is noteworthy for being the first game in the series and Dragon Quest III is noteworthy for being motherfucking Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest II just seems to be known as “that one that’s really really hard and comes between Dragon Quest I and III.” I often see people act as if Dragon Quest II is completely unremarkable and that is just not the case.

Dragon Quest II is a pretty badass game when you get right down to it. I should note that I have not played the NES original this time around and am thus only familiar with it from a lets play I saw years ago and from what I’ve looked up about it. From what I can gather the later versions definitely seem more polished and well structured, that is unless you are playing and English fan translation of the super famicom version that is. Read more

Hip Hop Album Review: Kamikaze (Eminem)

Kamikaze | album cover

I must say, I did not expect to be reviewing another Eminem album this soon after covering Revival. There was a four year gap between Revival and The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and there was a three year gap between The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and Recovery. Yet not even a full year has passed between the release of Revival and Kamikaze.

I had very high praises for Revival and I considered it to be one of his best albums if not THE best, but as usual for me this opinion turned out to be in the minority. Revival was among Eminem’s most panned albums since Relapse and a lot of people seemed to have hated it, and it was clear Em didn’t take it very well.

I don’t blame Em for his reaction given that Revival was meant to show him at his most vulnerable and human in a medium that is known for expecting its participants to be tough and stable. The very first track on Revival was about his fading relevance and his fears that he can’t own up to his prior legacy, and the poor reception of Revival likely didn’t alleviate those fears.

Kamikaze was clearly made in response to the poor reception of Revival and is meant to be a representation of Em going back on every bit of growth he had in the last decade or so and is instead a return to his roots. Instead of taking the high road, he decides he’s going to fire back at everyone who dissed him or talked shit about him regardless of the risks present. The title “Kamikaze” is a highly fitting title considering that this could be just as harmful to himself as it is to everyone else. He’s fully aware of just what could go wrong but has decided to go for it anyway. We will take a look at this track by track. Read more

Dragon Quest (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4): A JRPG Pioneer (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest | jp box art

Given the niche of people who read my stuff, I am sure most of you are aware of the impact the Dragon Quest series has on JRPGs as a whole. There is a strange sense of disconnect when thinking about how popular the series is in Japan when comparing its overseas releases. While the series is moderately popular in the west, the Dragon Quest series is pretty much mainstream in Japan. Today I am going to look at the game that started it all.

Prior to about a month ago, I have never played the first three Dragon Quest games (and still have not played the third as I am writing this). I beat the first Dragon Quest a few weeks ago and am very close to completing Dragon Quest 2. For the sake of context, the version I played through was the SNES version but I played a bit of the NES version until my emulator went kaput and made me lose all my progress. I plan to briefly talk about each version though and this piece is meant as a critique of the game overall. Read more

Duke Nukem Forever (PC/PS3/360): A Product of Before Its Time (Detailed Review)

Duke Nukem Forever | logo

TW: Misogyny, rape.

I’m no stranger to holding unique or contrarian views in regards to games. You kind of need to have either unique opinions or insight in order for people to want to hear what you have to say after all. There unfortunately comes the risk of having people accuse you of being purposefully contrarian in an attempt to garner attention rather than giving your own honest opinion.

The truth is that these are all my genuine opinions, I just don’t put that much stock in what everyone else thinks. I’ve always disliked how cliquish and conformist most mainstream gaming sites are in regards to games (among other things) and it always comes across as cringe worthy how people will take their word as law despite the fact that gaming media has become widely distrusted as of late.

I did not go into Duke Nukem Forever expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Aside from the game’s poor reception there is also the fact that I never got into first person shooters even when they ARE well received. My only experience with the Call of Duty series for instance is playing about two hours of the first Modern Warfare and quitting because the game just didn’t click with me. Granted that was a few years ago and I did not play enough to get a full impression but I have other games I’m far more interested in. Read more

Misao: Definitive Edition (PC): A Poor Man’s Corpse Party (Detailed Review)

Misao: Definitive Edition | logo

TW: References to Violence, Gore, and child abuse.

Lately I have had an interest in the “RPG Maker horror game” sub genre of sorts. The last one I covered was (Mario) The Music Box which I certainly enjoyed but my space bar did not. Prior to that the only other games I played of this type are Yume Nikki, LISA: The First, and Corpse Party Blood Covered (which wasn’t actually made in RPG Maker but probably could have been).

Games like Yume Nikki and LISA: The First are only tangentially connected to games like Corpse party, The Witch’s House, Ib, Ao Oni, Mad Father, and the subject of this review; Misao. The reason I say this is because those types of games aren’t explicit horror titles and are more so abstract walking sims with some very weird set pieces. I wasn’t crazy about Yume Nikki (although I can see why others are), I have quite liked the more straight up horror titles.

At the time of writing I have completed the Steam remakes of Mad Father and of its predecessor Misao. Despite the fact that Sen released their remake of Mad Father first, I decided to play Misao first because the original version was made before Mad Father. I am glad that I did so because it allows me to see how much was improved from one game to another. Read more

Fangame Review: Mother: Cognitive Dissonance

I have been a fan of the EarthBound series for many years at this point. I first became a fan from watching various lets plays of the game back around 2008 or 2009, because at the time I knew nothing about roms and emulators, and I clearly could not afford a copy of EarthBound. After having been moved by both EarthBound and Mother 3, I was enamored with the series for several months to the point of near obsession. As such, the series was very influential to my experiences as a gamer, despite me having experienced them over a decade after EarthBound’s release.

I didn’t end up playing EarthBound on my own until I bought a cart myself despite the huge price, and I’m still glad I have a physical copy seeing as how it’s my favorite game of all time, and I only played Earthbound Beginnings last year when it was released on the Wii U e-shop. Hell I still have not legitimately played Mother 3 and am waiting until its inevitable e-shop release to do so (although as I said, I have seen let’s plays of it and know enough to say that’s it’s pretty much a masterpiece) Read more

Riddled Corpses EX (PS4/XONE/Vita): Grindy yet Kickass Twin Stick Action (Detailed Review)

Riddled Corpses EX | Title Screen

The last two twins stick shooters I reviewed were… kinda shit. Those two games were Hatred and Venusian Vengeance. The former was a soulless cash in whose only claim to fame was shallow shock value that can only effect the most sheltered of individuals, and the latter was an ugly looking and tedious “retro throwback” with plodding level design. Riddled Corpses EX thankfully bucks this trend by being a good game.

I should clarify that I have not touched the original Riddled Corpses and that this version (the PS4 version in particular) was my first introduction to this title. The changes to the original game from what I looked up include an additional story mode, an engine that runs at 60 FPS, character stats, a new soundtrack (or possibly two depending on whether or not the unlockable metal arrangement were in the original game), online leader boards, a revamped combo system, two player co-op (online, but not local), and less grinding. Read more

Fangame Review: (Mario) The Music Box

(Mario) - The Music Box | Title Screen

TW: References to violence, gore, suicide, cannibalism, child abuse, and murder.

Though I have yet to play many of them, I have always held a special interest in fan games. It is especially interesting to see what fans can do with an existing property with nothing other than their own money and free time, and it is especially noteworthy how many have managed to create an experience on par with or better than the original creators can.

Or you could be like (Mario) The Music Box and have nothing to do with Nintendo’s flagship series aside from having Mario and Luigi in it. It’s quite fitting that “Mario” is in parentheses in the title of this game because this game is not really about Mario. Of course one can get the impression that the last type of game that would be appropriate for Mario is a Corpse Party clone, but even still there is so little that has to do with the Mario series involved. Read more

EarthBound (SNES/GBA): Pure Artistic Desire (Detailed Review)

Earthbound | Ness's Nightmare

EarthBound is a game that has been well received since its introduction, but has only recently received a serious look by mainstream gaming websites in the past few years. We now find it frequently in top-10 lists near the number one spot. The weird thing about this however, is that Nintendo of America has ignored the EarthBound series and has given it no publicity over the years, so what was there to increase its publicity so drastically that major gaming sites started noticing? The answer would be the game’s rabid fan base that is incredibly loyal to the series and have pushed hard to get it noticed. This however has led some to some fans that are really overzealous and give the series a massive amount of hype with great expectations to fill. I myself at one point have been in that same position of near obsession with the series, but it has been years since then and I have moved on and played many other games that have made me just as passionate as EarthBound did.

I recently decided to replay EarthBound and I expected that losing my overzealous passion would make the game’s flaws more noticeable. Despite having a very special place in my heart I expected this review to be one that, while still having a positive tone, was more critical of the game. I was wrong, and being wrong has never felt so right. It turns out that not only in this play-through that I re-discovered exactly what it was that made me fall in love with it in the first place, but I discovered more. This play-through marks the only time that my opinion of a game I already played improved despite being one of my all time favorite games to begin with. Read more

Persona 3 FES (PS2): Finding the Will to Live (Detailed Review)

Persona 3 | What I wanted most

When people think of the biggest JRPG series, what do they usually think of? Likely Final Fantasy at this point but the series is no longer what it once was. There’s also Dragon Quest if you are in Japan or are a total weeb like myself, and the Tales series if you are a weeb as well. But the face of new console JRPGs for the last decade or so has arguably been the Persona series.

Persona 3 was the first new entry in the Persona series in 6 years when it originally came out. The original Persona was pretty popular in Japan but it just kind lingered in obscurity in the US since it was a JRPG released before Final Fantasy VII. The first entry in the Persona 2 duology was not even localized at the time and as far as I know the second one wasn’t successful.

It was Persona 3 that decided to change its entire approach and that was almost single-handedly responsible for putting Atlus on the map. I first played Persona 3 almost a decade ago and had yet to replay it until earlier this year. While it is not without flaws, it is an immensely powerful game and is likely to remain a cornerstone in the genre for quite some time. There is a lot to talk about with Persona 3 both good and bad. Read more